US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

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US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:13 am UTC

Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It’s .Seizable

Wired wrote:
Spoiler:
When U.S. authorities shuttered sports-wagering site Bodog.com last week, it raised eyebrows across the net because the domain name was registered with a Canadian company, ostensibly putting it beyond the reach of the U.S. government. Working around that, the feds went directly to VeriSign, a U.S.-based internet backbone company that has the contract to manage the coveted .com and other “generic” top-level domains.

EasyDNS, an internet infrastructure company, protested that the “ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc. needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of U.S. federal and state lawmakers.”

But despite EasyDNS and others’ outrage, the U.S. government says it’s gone that route hundreds of times. Furthermore, it says it has the right to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies that have the contracts to administer them are based on United States soil, according to Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.

The controversy highlights the unique control the U.S. continues to hold over key components of the global domain name system, and rips a Band-Aid off a historic sore point for other nations. A complicated web of bureaucracy and Commerce Department-dictated contracts signed in 1999 established that key domains would be contracted out to Network Solutions, which was acquired by VeriSign in 2000. That cemented control of all-important .com and .net domains with a U.S. company – VeriSign – putting every website using one of those addresses firmly within reach of American courts regardless of where the owners are located – possibly forever.

The government, Navas said, usually serves court-ordered seizures on VeriSign, which manages domains ending in .com, .net, .cc, .tv and .name, because “foreign-based registrars are not bound to comply with U.S. court orders.” The government does the same with the non-profit counterpart to VeriSign that now manages the .org domain. That’s the Public Interest Registry, which, like VeriSign, is based in Virginia.

Such seizures are becoming commonplace under the Obama administration. For example, the U.S. government program known as Operation in Our Sites acquires federal court orders to shutter sites it believes are hawking counterfeited goods, illegal sports streams and unauthorized movies and music. Navas said the U.S. government has seized 750 domain names, “most with foreign-based registrars.”

VeriSign, for its part, said it is complying with U.S. law.

“VeriSign responds to lawful court orders subject to its technical capabilities,” the company said in a statement. “When law enforcement presents us with such lawful orders impacting domain names within our registries, we respond within our technical capabilities.”


VeriSign declined to entertain questions about how many times it has done this. It often complies with U.S. court orders by redirecting the DNS (Domain Name System) of a domain to a U.S. government IP address that informs online visitors that the site has been seized (for example, ninjavideo.net.)

“Beyond that, further questions should be directed to the appropriate U.S. federal government agency responsible for the domain name seizure,” the company said.

The Public Interest Registry did not immediately respond for comment.

Bodog.com was targeted because federal law generally makes it illegal to offer online sports wagering and to payoff online bets in the United States, even though online gambling isn’t illegal globally.

Bodog.com was registered with a Canadian registrar, a VeriSign subcontractor, but the United States shuttered the site without any intervention from Canadian authorities or companies.

Instead, the feds went straight to VeriSign. It’s a powerful company deeply enmeshed in the backbone operations of the internet, including managing the .com infrastructure and operating root name servers. VeriSign has a cozy relationship with the federal government, and has long had a contract from the U.S. government to help manage the internet’s “root file” that is key to having a unified internet name system.

Still, the issue of the U.S.’s legal dominion claim over all .com domains wasn’t an issue in the January seizure of the domain of megaupload.com, which is implicated in one of the largest criminal copyright cases in U.S. history. Megaupload.com was registered in the United States with a registrar based in Washington state.

The United States would have won even more control over the internet with the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. But the nation’s biggest online protest ever scuttled the measures, which would have allowed the government to force internet service providers in the U.S. to prevent Americans from being able to visit or find in search engines websites that the U.S. government suspected violated U.S. copyright or trademark law.

But as the Justice Department demonstrated forcefully with the takedown of Megaupload, just a day after the net’s coordinated anti-SOPA protest, it still has powerful weapons to use, despite the deaths of SOPA and PIPA.

So how does International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global body that oversees the domain-naming system, feel about the U.S. government’s actions? ICANN declined comment and forwarded a 2010 blog post from it’s chief Rod Beckstrom, who said ICANN has “no involvement in the takedown of any website.”

ICANN, a non-profit established by the U.S., has never awarded a contract to manage the .com space to a company outside the United States — in fact VeriSign has always held it — despite having a contentious relationship with ICANN that’s involved a protracted lawsuit. But, due to contract terms, VeriSign is unlikely to ever lose control over the immensely economically valuable .com handle.

ICANN is also seeking to distance itself from the U.S. government by being more inclusive, including allowing domain names in a range of written, global languages, ending the exclusivity of the Latin alphabet in top-level domains.

Still, many outside the United States, like China, India and Russia, distrust ICANN and want control of the net’s naming system to be turned over to an organization such as the International Telecommunications Union, an affiliate of the United Nations. Last year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Hamadoun Toure, the ITU’s chief, and said he wanted international control over the internet “using the monitoring capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union.”

“If we are going to talk about the democratization of international relations, I think a critical sphere is information exchange and global control over such exchange,” Putin said, according to a transcript from the Russian government.

Just last week, Robert McDowell, a Federal Communications Commission commissioner, blasted such an idea.

“If successful, these efforts would merely imprison the future in the regulatory dungeon of the past,” he said. “Even more counterproductive would be the creation of a new international body to oversee internet governance.”

ICANN was established in 1998 by the Clinton administration, and has been under global attack to internationalize the control of the Domain Name System ever since. A United Nations working group in 2005 concluded that “no single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance.”

But those pressures don’t seem to have registered with President Barack Obama’s Justice Department. Hollywood was a big donor to Obama, and Obama reciprocated by naming at least five former Recording Industry Association of America attorneys to posts in the Justice Department, which has been waging a crackdown on internet piracy. The Justice Department is looking for even more money in next year’s budget to hire more intellectual-property prosecutors.

Without SOPA or PIPA, the Justice Department lacks any mechanism to prevent Americans from visiting sites that are on a domain not controlled by a U.S. corporation. Knowing that, the world’s leading BitTorrent site, The Pirate Bay, recently switched its main site from a .org domain to .se, the handle for Sweden.

The Pirate Bay’s lead is unlikely to be followed by the millions of non-U.S. companies that rely on .com, which remains the net’s beachfront real estate, even if it is subject to being confiscated by the U.S.

But it is possible that the U.S. government’s big-footing over dot-com domains in the name of fighting copyright could add more weight to the arguments of those who want to put the U.N. in charge of the internet’s naming system. While that’s not inevitably a bad thing, it could lead to a world where any .com might be seizable by any country, including Russia, Libya and Iran.

Still, don’t expect Uncle Sam to give up its iron grip on .com without a fight


Welcome to the United States of American Controlled Webservices. I hope you enjoy being victim to the whims of people you have no legal right to vote for or against and who you do not pay taxes.

For those who have been born or made citizens of the United States of American Controlled Webservices, I hope that you, like me, enjoy paying taxes to departments you do not have the right to directly vote for or against. Remember to write you congressman! If you convince at least 100,000 of your fellow citizens to do so as well, they may deign to listen to you!

Edit: Forgot direct link/headline
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Last edited by Iulus Cofield on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:16 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby lutzj » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:17 am UTC

We should convince the owners of Sealand to sell .sea domains to help counterbalance this.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby jj7947 » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:45 am UTC

Heck, they should take the .web domain so they don't forget anything.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Angua » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:03 pm UTC

I really, really hope that a lot of people stop using these dot___ in protest. At the very least, I hope some other countries protest the American's basically declaring control over much of the internet.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby addams » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:00 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It’s .Seizable

Wired wrote:
Spoiler:
When U.S. authorities shuttered sports-wagering site Bodog.com last week, it raised eyebrows across the net because the domain name was registered with a Canadian company, ostensibly putting it beyond the reach of the U.S. government. Working around that, the feds went directly to VeriSign, a U.S.-based internet backbone company that has the contract to manage the coveted .com and other “generic” top-level domains.

EasyDNS, an internet infrastructure company, protested that the “ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc. needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of U.S. federal and state lawmakers.”

But despite EasyDNS and others’ outrage, the U.S. government says it’s gone that route hundreds of times. Furthermore, it says it has the right to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies that have the contracts to administer them are based on United States soil, according to Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.

The controversy highlights the unique control the U.S. continues to hold over key components of the global domain name system, and rips a Band-Aid off a historic sore point for other nations. A complicated web of bureaucracy and Commerce Department-dictated contracts signed in 1999 established that key domains would be contracted out to Network Solutions, which was acquired by VeriSign in 2000. That cemented control of all-important .com and .net domains with a U.S. company – VeriSign – putting every website using one of those addresses firmly within reach of American courts regardless of where the owners are located – possibly forever.

The government, Navas said, usually serves court-ordered seizures on VeriSign, which manages domains ending in .com, .net, .cc, .tv and .name, because “foreign-based registrars are not bound to comply with U.S. court orders.” The government does the same with the non-profit counterpart to VeriSign that now manages the .org domain. That’s the Public Interest Registry, which, like VeriSign, is based in Virginia.

Such seizures are becoming commonplace under the Obama administration. For example, the U.S. government program known as Operation in Our Sites acquires federal court orders to shutter sites it believes are hawking counterfeited goods, illegal sports streams and unauthorized movies and music. Navas said the U.S. government has seized 750 domain names, “most with foreign-based registrars.”

VeriSign, for its part, said it is complying with U.S. law.

“VeriSign responds to lawful court orders subject to its technical capabilities,” the company said in a statement. “When law enforcement presents us with such lawful orders impacting domain names within our registries, we respond within our technical capabilities.”


VeriSign declined to entertain questions about how many times it has done this. It often complies with U.S. court orders by redirecting the DNS (Domain Name System) of a domain to a U.S. government IP address that informs online visitors that the site has been seized (for example, ninjavideo.net.)

“Beyond that, further questions should be directed to the appropriate U.S. federal government agency responsible for the domain name seizure,” the company said.

The Public Interest Registry did not immediately respond for comment.

Bodog.com was targeted because federal law generally makes it illegal to offer online sports wagering and to payoff online bets in the United States, even though online gambling isn’t illegal globally.

Bodog.com was registered with a Canadian registrar, a VeriSign subcontractor, but the United States shuttered the site without any intervention from Canadian authorities or companies.

Instead, the feds went straight to VeriSign. It’s a powerful company deeply enmeshed in the backbone operations of the internet, including managing the .com infrastructure and operating root name servers. VeriSign has a cozy relationship with the federal government, and has long had a contract from the U.S. government to help manage the internet’s “root file” that is key to having a unified internet name system.

Still, the issue of the U.S.’s legal dominion claim over all .com domains wasn’t an issue in the January seizure of the domain of megaupload.com, which is implicated in one of the largest criminal copyright cases in U.S. history. Megaupload.com was registered in the United States with a registrar based in Washington state.

The United States would have won even more control over the internet with the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. But the nation’s biggest online protest ever scuttled the measures, which would have allowed the government to force internet service providers in the U.S. to prevent Americans from being able to visit or find in search engines websites that the U.S. government suspected violated U.S. copyright or trademark law.

But as the Justice Department demonstrated forcefully with the takedown of Megaupload, just a day after the net’s coordinated anti-SOPA protest, it still has powerful weapons to use, despite the deaths of SOPA and PIPA.

So how does International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global body that oversees the domain-naming system, feel about the U.S. government’s actions? ICANN declined comment and forwarded a 2010 blog post from it’s chief Rod Beckstrom, who said ICANN has “no involvement in the takedown of any website.”

ICANN, a non-profit established by the U.S., has never awarded a contract to manage the .com space to a company outside the United States — in fact VeriSign has always held it — despite having a contentious relationship with ICANN that’s involved a protracted lawsuit. But, due to contract terms, VeriSign is unlikely to ever lose control over the immensely economically valuable .com handle.

ICANN is also seeking to distance itself from the U.S. government by being more inclusive, including allowing domain names in a range of written, global languages, ending the exclusivity of the Latin alphabet in top-level domains.

Still, many outside the United States, like China, India and Russia, distrust ICANN and want control of the net’s naming system to be turned over to an organization such as the International Telecommunications Union, an affiliate of the United Nations. Last year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Hamadoun Toure, the ITU’s chief, and said he wanted international control over the internet “using the monitoring capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union.”

“If we are going to talk about the democratization of international relations, I think a critical sphere is information exchange and global control over such exchange,” Putin said, according to a transcript from the Russian government.

Just last week, Robert McDowell, a Federal Communications Commission commissioner, blasted such an idea.

“If successful, these efforts would merely imprison the future in the regulatory dungeon of the past,” he said. “Even more counterproductive would be the creation of a new international body to oversee internet governance.”

ICANN was established in 1998 by the Clinton administration, and has been under global attack to internationalize the control of the Domain Name System ever since. A United Nations working group in 2005 concluded that “no single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance.”

But those pressures don’t seem to have registered with President Barack Obama’s Justice Department. Hollywood was a big donor to Obama, and Obama reciprocated by naming at least five former Recording Industry Association of America attorneys to posts in the Justice Department, which has been waging a crackdown on internet piracy. The Justice Department is looking for even more money in next year’s budget to hire more intellectual-property prosecutors.

Without SOPA or PIPA, the Justice Department lacks any mechanism to prevent Americans from visiting sites that are on a domain not controlled by a U.S. corporation. Knowing that, the world’s leading BitTorrent site, The Pirate Bay, recently switched its main site from a .org domain to .se, the handle for Sweden.

The Pirate Bay’s lead is unlikely to be followed by the millions of non-U.S. companies that rely on .com, which remains the net’s beachfront real estate, even if it is subject to being confiscated by the U.S.

But it is possible that the U.S. government’s big-footing over dot-com domains in the name of fighting copyright could add more weight to the arguments of those who want to put the U.N. in charge of the internet’s naming system. While that’s not inevitably a bad thing, it could lead to a world where any .com might be seizable by any country, including Russia, Libya and Iran.

Still, don’t expect Uncle Sam to give up its iron grip on .com without a fight


Welcome to the United States of American Controlled Webservices. I hope you enjoy being victim to the whims of people you have no legal right to vote for or against and who you do not pay taxes.

For those who have been born or made citizens of the United States of American Controlled Webservices, I hope that you, like me, enjoy paying taxes to departments you do not have the right to directly vote for or against. Remember to write you congressman! If you convince at least 100,000 of your fellow citizens to do so as well, they may deign to listen to you!

Edit: Forgot direct link/headline
Edit:Edit: I am successful at the simplest of tasks, yes.

That was good. Nice links.
It seems that the internet is in for some big changes.
Yes. I do think that it was American engeeners that thought up the internet.
The Task was to make an unbreakable means of communication.
tee hee. They may have what they asked for.
When Primaries are in funny languages and the servers are everywhere, then, it is the wild wild west of the internet all over again. It will be fun.
The Americans are forcing the peoples of the rest of the world to take over.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby sigsfried » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:24 pm UTC

Countries constantly try to force others to accept their standards, why should we not expect the USA to do this? Another example is the way the EU is trying to make it difficult for the USA to get the drugs required for lethal injections. Or the USA extraditing someone for having a hosting website that was used to host copyrighted material, even though they hadn't been to the USA since they were 6. It is the way of the world, and I don't see any reason to expect it to change any time soon.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:44 am UTC

sigsfried wrote:Countries constantly try to force others to accept their standards, why should we not expect the USA to do this? Another example is the way the EU is trying to make it difficult for the USA to get the drugs required for lethal injections. Or the USA extraditing someone for having a hosting website that was used to host copyrighted material, even though they hadn't been to the USA since they were 6. It is the way of the world, and I don't see any reason to expect it to change any time soon.

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1. To consider likely or certain: We should expect governments to continue to abuse their authority at the expense of human rights.
2. To consider reasonable or due: We should expect governments to stop abusing their authority at the expense of human rights.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby addams » Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:15 pm UTC

Well; It is still interesting.
What will happen next?
With the different written languages used as primaries, the access that the US has to the web will be limited. That will be interesting.

I think that the people of the US are so not multilingual that the people of the US have less than one language. People that have more than one language will have even more of an intellectual advantage.

Yes. That is what I typed and I mean it. It would take a study, but, I have been in the States. As I spoke to the people, it seemed to me that at least 50% were not able to read, speak and write in English.
What is an Arabic primary going to do to that population? Nothing. Most likely, nothing.
But; If, strange and unusual primaries start showing up on the web and the servers are not in the US, then, What?
ech. Most people that have low level language skills listen to one way communication, anyway; Like TV.
People with high level language skills will find the change exhilarating. It will take a while. I will not be here to see it. I can only imagine.

I was here to watch the communication boom. It was Great!

I went to bed by candle light. Now, the world is lit by computer screens. Many of us are lulled to sleep by the light of a screen. It can change that much more.

I know that it does not seem possible, but, it is. The US could become a dark area on the map of the internet. It would be a small loss or none at all.

Going to the US would be like going to Africa in the 1800's. Fun for those that are prepared.

What if? What if; Most web addresses are not in English? What if; Most of the internet did not work inside the US? The entire US would be like a camp out for the more sophisticated peoples.

I have no idea. I would never have thought of the internet. I can not possibley think of what will happen with it, next.

Oh! Oh! I was around when the whole thing started. The engineers that did think it up laughed a great deal. Those guys were happy. They made a thing for the military that they knew could not be kept under tight controls. So, funny.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Lostdreams » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:11 pm UTC

The US will screw up their hold on webservices and then other, less reputable, areas will open them up and collect all of your data.

Though I must admit when I want security, there's nothing like a Swiss bank account internet provider.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby omgryebread » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:28 pm UTC

I'm concerned for the opposite reason: that a large number of people think the US shouldn't have jurisdiction here. VeriSign is an American company operating in a US state. Having customers outside the US jurisdiction does not exempt a business from following US laws, nor should it.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Dauric » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:36 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:I'm concerned for the opposite reason: that a large number of people think the US shouldn't have jurisdiction here. VeriSign is an American company operating in a US state. Having customers outside the US jurisdiction does not exempt a business from following US laws, nor should it.


Problem is conventional rules about jurisdictions are problematic on the internet as it currently exists. IE: you can have a site run by someone in England is registered through a company in the U.S. who's servers are in India...

I honestly think that there's gong to have to be some pretty specific treaties signed over this shit in the relatively near future. The U.S. government's recent exploiting(arguably) of the U.S. centric nature of the infrastructure will probably force the issue.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:02 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:I'm concerned for the opposite reason: that a large number of people think the US shouldn't have jurisdiction here. VeriSign is an American company operating in a US state. Having customers outside the US jurisdiction does not exempt a business from following US laws, nor should it.


I dunno. I don't like the idea that a foreign business, with foreign servers, serving foreign customers, but forced into an American domain registrar can be shut down for following the laws of their own country. I wouldn't be opposed to the US blocking American access to such sites, but this sounds all too much like American laws crossing into foreign borders and foreigners being helpless to stop them unless they choose an obscure dot X.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby sardia » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:13 pm UTC

I concur, there has been fears that the current GPS network would be restricted in the interest of national security. Imagine if the US just seized people's access to the GPS network because someone was using it to infringe on US law? It's similar scenario because the US pioneered and developed the GPS constellation, and fears of the US exploiting its advantage led to other countries developing their own GPS system. Be on the lookout for this in the future unless the US can promise, like they did with the GPS system not to use it to further their own interests.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Dauric » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:22 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:
omgryebread wrote:I'm concerned for the opposite reason: that a large number of people think the US shouldn't have jurisdiction here. VeriSign is an American company operating in a US state. Having customers outside the US jurisdiction does not exempt a business from following US laws, nor should it.


I dunno. I don't like the idea that a foreign business, with foreign servers, serving foreign customers, but forced into an American domain registrar can be shut down for following the laws of their own country. I wouldn't be opposed to the US blocking American access to such sites, but this sounds all too much like American laws crossing into foreign borders and foreigners being helpless to stop them unless they choose an obscure dot X.


The thing is each of of these scenarios is equally true, and equally disturbing in their own circumstances. This is rather why I think the U.N. is going to have to convene a committee to hash out the jurisdiction issues and draft a treaty, or a series of treaties, to resolve these issues. On one hand we can't tell someone in Brazil that they have to adhere to U.S. laws because they're registered with a U.S. domain registrar, but by the same token we can't force Verisign to attempt to adhere to every set of potentially contradictory laws for every client around the world and not see the company collapse under the combined costs of the legal team it would take to do that.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby omgryebread » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:24 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:
I dunno. I don't like the idea that a foreign business, with foreign servers, serving foreign customers, but forced into an American domain registrar can be shut down for following the laws of their own country. I wouldn't be opposed to the US blocking American access to such sites, but this sounds all too much like American laws crossing into foreign borders and foreigners being helpless to stop them unless they choose an obscure dot X.
A sovereign nation like the US has jurisdiction over companies that operate within its borders. A nation has the right and responsibility to prevent crime from occurring. The site in question was committing a crime. VeriSign, by providing the registration to the site, was enabling a crime. The US had the right and responsibility to stop said crime by using it's sovereign right to law enforcement on a company over which it has jurisdiction. I'm not sure which of those could be controversial without uprooting the concept of sovereignty.

Except, obviously, the crime itself, which in this case is stupid, online gambling should be legal, but that's a separate question.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:40 pm UTC

Except the crime occurred outside the sovereign territory of the United States. Except no criminal charges were filed (or could be filed).

The US would be fully within its rights if it took action against Verisign, if it took action against US citizens/residents using the site, or if it disabled access solely for Americans. But they didn't do any of those things. They effectively shut down a foreign company in a foreign country without cooperating with the relevant authorities by targeting the flimsiest association with actual Americans. It's like they blockaded Hong Kong because Hong Kong has casinos and the only ships going there left from American ports, but weren't ships flying a US flag, crewed by Americans, or owned by Americans.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby sardia » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:42 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Except the crime occurred outside the sovereign territory of the United States. Except no criminal charges were filed (or could be filed).

The US would be fully within its rights if it took action against Verisign, if it took action against US citizens/residents using the site, or if it disabled access solely for Americans. But they didn't do any of those things. They effectively shut down a foreign company in a foreign country without cooperating with the relevant authorities by targeting the flimsiest association with actual Americans. It's like they blockaded Hong Kong because Hong Kong has casinos and the only ships going there left from American ports, but weren't ships flying a US flag, crewed by Americans, or owned by Americans.

In this example, the US would deny the ships permission to leave port, which, verisign being the port authority.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Soralin » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:11 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:A sovereign nation like the US has jurisdiction over companies that operate within its borders. A nation has the right and responsibility to prevent crime from occurring. The site in question was committing a crime. VeriSign, by providing the registration to the site, was enabling a crime. The US had the right and responsibility to stop said crime by using it's sovereign right to law enforcement on a company over which it has jurisdiction. I'm not sure which of those could be controversial without uprooting the concept of sovereignty.

Except, obviously, the crime itself, which in this case is stupid, online gambling should be legal, but that's a separate question.

Well except, the company in question wasn't operating within the borders of the US, and wasn't committing any crime in the area where it was operating. Some of the individuals who were using it may have been committing a crime, based on the various countries they used it from, but the server and company itself were in a completely different area, and under a different set of laws. I mean, someone accessing a site that said blasphemous things could be committing a crime in the country they live in, but the site itself, located in a different country, may be perfectly legal, and the first country in question shouldn't have any power over it.

Verisign itself is nothing but a company that maintains part of a global address book intended for use by the entire internet. It isn't just in the US, it's servers are all over the planet. All a domain nameserver does is convert some human-readable name into an IP address. And what the US is saying, is that they should have the right to unilaterally alter this global address book, and write in fake addresses, for the entire internet, because a company that maintains part of it has some presence within the US.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:59 am UTC

Communicating information should never be a crime, ever.

It could possibly be cause for a civil suit, such as for libel, slander, or copyright infringement. But never a crime.

If I publicize classified or otherwise proprietary information, that is perhaps breach of contract if I signed a non-disclosure agreement, but not a crime.

Even if I falsely shout “Fire” in a crowded theater, the crime is that I caused a violent stampede, not that I spoke. No stampede? No crime.

And providing a platform on which others communicate information? Never. A crime. Ever.

On the other hand, stifling the flow of information, and punishing people for communicating? Those are crimes against human rights.

All web traffic is nothing more nor less than the communication of information. Numbers. Binary digits. Information.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:14 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Communicating information should never be a crime, ever.
I vehemently disagree with this. If I publicize classified information that was classified to protect people, and as a result those people die, that blood is on my hands. And I'm sorry, but suing me for breach of contract isn't quite going to cut it when that happens.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:25 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:Communicating information should never be a crime, ever.
I vehemently disagree with this. If I publicize classified information that was classified to protect people, and as a result those people die, that blood is on my hands. And I'm sorry, but suing me for breach of contract isn't quite going to cut it when that happens.

At such time as those people are killed, that becomes blood on your hands. If they are not hurt? No crime.

From this, it becomes clear that the mere act of communicating was not, in itself, criminal. Your speech did not, by itself, hurt anyone. If someone acts on your speech, then you may be guilty of something like abetting a crime. However, even then, it must be clear that the crime would not have been committed except for your communication. If it is reasonably plausible for the crime to have been committed without your communication, then you are not complicit to it.

Edit: And too, when considering legislation that restricts speech, a weighing must be done between, “How often will this law stop actual violent or otherwise heinous crime?” and “How much will this law constantly chill the speech of how many millions of people?” Not to mention, “How easily can this law be used by government officials or others in power to hide their actual severe wrongdoing beyond a veil of That Which Is Illegal To Communicate?”

Most of the time the answers are, “Almost never, as people who want to commit heinous crimes do so without regard for the law already, and adding one more thing to that which is illegal just means one more thing criminals will ignore,” and, “A lot, and a lot,” and “Depends on the specifics, but overall pretty darn easily.”
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:35 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:At such time as those people are killed, that becomes blood on your hands. If they are not hurt? No crime.
And where do you draw the line on the statute of limitations? If someone reveals nuclear secrets to a terrorist organization that is able to build a bomb over the course of a decade, is the person who revealed the classified info in the first place no longer responsible? I think this goes down the road of the engineer's dilemma of "just because I build a bomb doesn't mean I'm responsible for how it's used." If you're giving the bomb to someone you know is going to use it, how different is it really from you pushing the button yourself?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:07 am UTC

22/7 wrote:And where do you draw the line on the statute of limitations?

When it is
Qaanol wrote:reasonably plausible for the crime to have been committed without your communication


I concede that my original statement in terms of absolutes was not accurate. The edge case is “conspiracy”, as exemplified by contracting a hitman. Even before the hit gets carried out, hiring someone for murder should still be a crime.

Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category, but introduces the element of criminality prior to “actual” crime occurring. In other words, criminalization of a “potential” crime. For that, you need reasonable certainty that the crime will definitely occur unless actively prevented, and also reasonable certainty that it would not have occurred without the communication in question. And you need strong checks to prevent “thought crime” laws being passed.

In any case, there must be an “actual” crime involved—the stuff we all agree are Bad Things™, like murder, assault, theft, arson, or nuclear bombing. Merely putative crimes, such as gambling, drug use, prostitution, and criticizing the government, should not be crimes at all.

For government documents, it should be very difficult to keep something classified longer than, say, two years. Most government documents should enter the public record immediately, preferably through online publication with an easily browsable and searchable interface. Those requiring temporary confidentiality should be released within 6 months, with a possible extension up to 2 years if classified. After 2 years, I’m not sure exactly how it should work, but almost everything should become public within maybe 2 or 3 more 2-year extensions. The only possible exceptions I see are weapons plans and encryption methods, and even for those the existence of the document and a summary of the contents should be public.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:17 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:I concede that my original statement in terms of absolutes was not accurate. The edge case is “conspiracy”, as exemplified by contracting a hitman. Even before the hit gets carried out, hiring someone for murder should still be a crime.

Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category, but introduces the element of criminality prior to “actual” crime occurring. In other words, criminalization of a “potential” crime. For that, you need reasonable certainty that the crime will definitely occur unless actively prevented, and also reasonable certainty that it would not have occurred without the communication in question. And you need strong checks to prevent “thought crime” laws being passed.
I think you're still oversimplifying the problem. In my previous example, a terrorist organization (or rogue state or whatever) is surely not putting all their eggs in one basket. Say you simply speed up the process of them getting a nuke by a few years, are you responsible then? What about speeding it up by 5 or 10 years? By a few months? I think at this point any line you draw is 100% arbitrary, and this is part of the reason I think the harm is done in revealing the secret. Regardless, this is kind of a rabbit hole.

Qaanol wrote:In any case, there must be an “actual” crime involved—the stuff we all agree are Bad Things™, like murder, assault, theft, arson, or nuclear bombing. Merely putative crimes, such as gambling, drug use, prostitution, and criticizing the government, should not be crimes at all.

For government documents, it should be very difficult to keep something classified longer than, say, two years. Most government documents should enter the public record immediately, preferably through online publication with an easily browsable and searchable interface. Those requiring temporary confidentiality should be released within 6 months, with a possible extension up to 2 years if classified. After 2 years, I’m not sure exactly how it should work, but almost everything should become public within maybe 2 or 3 more 2-year extensions. The only possible exceptions I see are weapons plans and encryption methods, and even for those the existence of the document and a summary of the contents should be public.
There are a number of problems with this approach. Some documents, for example, would reveal corporate proprietary information. Other documents would reveal secret or classified processes that would force constant development within organizations such as the CIA, FBI or even the military. And while constantly developing and improving processes is a good thing, you don't want to scrap a perfectly reliable and effective process simply because it's been around for a couple of years.

Also, if you think 2 years is anything resembling a long time in government, you haven't worked much with the government. It could take twice that long to get a modestly-sized project to fruition, at which point the technology and processes that technology was originally designed to support are public knowledge and no longer represent a strategic advantage over an enemy.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:14 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category
Well yeah. Make a category vague enough, and it'll conveniently include whatever you want on demand.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:17 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category
Well yeah. Make a category vague enough, and it'll conveniently include whatever you want on demand.

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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:21 am UTC

22/7: You’re thinking in terms of the way things are now and how poorly the current government would function under the scenario I propose. I am thinking in terms of the way things could be, and how excellent it would be to live under a government that has to deal with real transparency. The idea is that government would, for the most part, simply stop doing things that need to be kept secret. And that is what I want: a government that only does things which are worth being proud of.

Similarly, if legislators who supported a law that was later ruled facially unconstitutional were held accountable for their part in breeching the constitution, we would get a lot fewer unconstitutional laws passed. It doesn’t make any difference whether “if that law were already on the books then Barack Obama would be in trouble”, the idea is that “if that law had been on the books, the ACA and the NDAA and a whole bunch of other laws simply would not have passed in their current forms, because lawmakers would have had a personal stake in making sure that only constitutional laws get passed.”

gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category
Well yeah. Make a category vague enough, and it'll conveniently include whatever you want on demand.

Yeah, or take a well-established legal standard of proof such as “beyond a reasonable doubt” and say something that means the same thing in slightly different words.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:33 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:I am thinking in terms of the way things could be, and how excellent it would be to live under a government that has to deal with real transparency. The idea is that government would, for the most part, simply stop doing things that need to be kept secret. And that is what I want: a government that only does things which are worth being proud of.
Yeah, it sure would be nice if everyone could just get along all the time, wouldn't it?

gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:Even that, however, falls nicely in my “reasonably plausible” category
Well yeah. Make a category vague enough, and it'll conveniently include whatever you want on demand.
Yeah, or take a well-established legal standard of proof such as “beyond a reasonable doubt” and say something that means the same thing in slightly different words.
That does not mean the same thing. I guarantee you that if juries started returning guilty verdicts whenever they found it "reasonably plausible" that the person committed the crime, a hell of a lot more people would start getting convicted. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" means it is no longer reasonable to doubt it. "Reasonably plausible" means... what, exactly? That it is reasonable to think something is plausible? How is that anything remotely like the same standard of proof?
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:39 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:That does not mean the same thing. I guarantee you that if juries started returning guilty verdicts whenever they found it "reasonably plausible" that the person committed the crime, a hell of a lot more people would start getting convicted. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" means it is no longer reasonable to doubt it. "Reasonably plausible" means... what, exactly? That it is reasonable to think something is plausible? How is that anything remotely like the same standard of proof?

If it is “reasonably plausible that the crime would have occurred even without your action” then there is “reasonable doubt that you caused the crime”. If there is “reasonable doubt that you caused the crime” then it is “reasonably plausible that the crime would have occurred even without your action.”
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:45 am UTC

To which I will merely repeat 22/7's question:
22/7 wrote:I think you're still oversimplifying the problem. In my previous example, a terrorist organization (or rogue state or whatever) is surely not putting all their eggs in one basket. Say you simply speed up the process of them getting a nuke by a few years, are you responsible then? What about speeding it up by 5 or 10 years? By a few months? I think at this point any line you draw is 100% arbitrary, and this is part of the reason I think the harm is done in revealing the secret.


After all, being a soldier or a spy can be dangerous work, and so surely many of them will eventually die regardless of whether or not I release this stack of classified data. Does that mean I'm magically not guilty of any crime if an entire squadron is bombed into oblivion the day after I release it?
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Qaanol » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:22 am UTC

Lovely thing about the law: it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) nail down all the edge cases and grey areas itself, but rather provides common-sense tests to be weighed by juries.

The other trick to is to provide strong disincentives for the leveling of false or trumped-up charges.

gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:I am thinking in terms of the way things could be, and how excellent it would be to live under a government that has to deal with real transparency. The idea is that government would, for the most part, simply stop doing things that need to be kept secret. And that is what I want: a government that only does things which are worth being proud of.
Yeah, it sure would be nice if everyone could just get along all the time, wouldn't it?

I’m suggesting practicable methods for causing the government to improve itself. Hold individuals accountable to the constitution they’ve sworn to uphold, and they’ll do a much better job thereupholding.

gmalivuk wrote:After all, being a soldier or a spy can be dangerous work, and so surely many of them will eventually die regardless of whether or not I release this stack of classified data. Does that mean I'm magically not guilty of any crime if an entire squadron is bombed into oblivion the day after I release it?

You’re still only considering one side of it. What if you release classified data that lists where the squadron was each day between 6 and 24 months ago, but nothing about where it’s been since. Should you get jailed for treason for that act of communication which caused no harm? Should that data have even still been classified?

There is a balance to be struck, and the default mode should be “upholding free speech”. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, and for the government to infringe it requires extreme circumstances. Nuclear bombings and hired assassins may well meet that level if the connection is beyond a reasonable doubt, because the right to life is also a fundamental right. But as a starting point, free speech should not be infringed.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:51 am UTC

Qaanol wrote: lists where the squadron was each day between 6 and 24 months ago, but nothing about where it’s been since. Should you get jailed for treason for that act of communication which caused no harm? Should that data have even still been classified?

Yes and maybe, respectively. For the latter, I need more information. For the former, we can't let people make judgment calls with classified information who aren't themselves permitted to declassify it. Just because you have access to classified information does not mean you should have a free ride on deciding whether it should be classified or not. If anything, he should be punished just for breaking an NDA, even if you don't like the treason charge.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Proginoskes » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:14 am UTC

jj7947 wrote:Heck, they should take the .web domain so they don't forget anything.


and .edu as well ...

It reminds me of the Monty Python line: "I would tax all foreigners living abroad."

BONUS COMPLAINT: In the past year, we've seen SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and now this Big Brother act.

Why does the government hate the Internet?

This reminds me more and more of Zappa's warning label ... Maybe a meme can be made out of: "The Internet contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress."

WARNING/GUARANTEE

This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor surpress.

In some socially retarded areas, religious fanatics and ultra-conservative political organizations violate your First Amendment Rights by attempting to censor rock & roll albums. We feel that this is un-Constitutional and un-American.

As an alternative to these government-supported programs (designed to keep you docile and ignorant), Barking Pumpkin is pleased to provide stimulating digital audio entertainment for those of you who have outgrown -the ordinary-.

The language and concepts contained herein are GUARANTEED NOT TO CAUSE ETERNAL TORMENT IN THE PLACE WHERE THE GUY WITH THE HORNS AND THE POINTED STICK CONDUCTS HIS BUSINESS.

This guarantee is as real as the threats of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ).

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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:18 am UTC

Actually, .edu is not only administered by a VeriSign subsidiary but is supposed to be a US exclusive domain:

Educause wrote:The .edu domain is one of the seven original top-level subdivisions of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). The .edu domain is intended for accredited post-secondary educational U.S. institutions. It is managed under the authority of the United States Department of Commerce.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Chen » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:18 pm UTC

It seems reasonable to me that jurisdiction for internet related issues should be related to the domain name. A company can be based anywhere and people can use its website from anywhere. The physical location of the company seems rather irrelevant in these cases. It would at least be a consistent rule to go by. Of course company's would then just use domains from countries whose laws they want to follow. Alternatively like someone had suggested you get a global agreement on how to deal with internet issues. Its a completely different paradigm than what we have now in terms of jurisdiction so clearly someone is going to have to come up with a way to deal with it sooner rather than later.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:07 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:I’m suggesting practicable methods for causing the government to improve itself. Hold individuals accountable to the constitution they’ve sworn to uphold, and they’ll do a much better job thereupholding.
And I'm suggesting that none of that will make other countries get along with each other all the time.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:14 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:You’re still only considering one side of it. What if you release classified data that lists where the squadron was each day between 6 and 24 months ago, but nothing about where it’s been since. Should you get jailed for treason for that act of communication which caused no harm? Should that data have even still been classified?
You're just ignoring the question. Yes, your example is one version of a problem that would have to be dealt with, but so is ours and you're not willing to deal with it.

Either way, this is a rabbit hole.
gmalivuk wrote:
Qaanol wrote:I’m suggesting practicable methods for causing the government to improve itself. Hold individuals accountable to the constitution they’ve sworn to uphold, and they’ll do a much better job thereupholding.
And I'm suggesting that none of that will make other countries get along with each other all the time.
It's also incredibly unrealistic. Nobody is going to accept the job of making laws if someone can come along a decade later and throw them in prison for it. Yes, it's frustrating that power is currently wielded with impunity, but forcing every misstep to be cripplingly punished will lead to either no one being willing to step at all or more corruption, just in a different way than we have now.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby Vaniver » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I vehemently disagree with this. If I publicize classified information that was classified to protect people, and as a result those people die, that blood is on my hands. And I'm sorry, but suing me for breach of contract isn't quite going to cut it when that happens.
If some contract breaches were punishable by imprisonment or death, would that be sufficient?
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby omgryebread » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:04 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:I vehemently disagree with this. If I publicize classified information that was classified to protect people, and as a result those people die, that blood is on my hands. And I'm sorry, but suing me for breach of contract isn't quite going to cut it when that happens.
If some contract breaches were punishable by imprisonment or death, would that be sufficient?
Much easier to you know, classify some information and call it's spread another crime.

I mean, theoretically you could just have like, the crime of "physical harm." Assault, murder, rape, manslaughter, criminal negligence, vehicular manslaughter, etc could all be eliminated, and fall under "physical harm." Hell, why not just make everything a subset of "harm" and call it a day.
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Re: US claims right to shut down nearly all domains

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:16 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:If some contract breaches were punishable by imprisonment or death, would that be sufficient?
Is that different from saying it's a criminal offense to break some contracts, such as the ones about not publicizing classified information?
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